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Free-Spirited Mobile Marketing and Advertising

The world market for mobile marketing and advertising is expected to be worth about $3 billion by the end of 2007, according to a recent study from ABI Research.

By 2011, the value of this market will reach $19 billion, including mobile search and video advertising. ABI Research also expects some of the highest levels of spending to come in the broadcast mobile video space. By 2011, it will surpass SMS as a source of mobile marketing spending, due in part to mobile broadcast network presence in all major markets. In 2011, ABI expects spending for broadcast mobile video advertising alone to reach $9 billion.

ABI believes that for this market to reach its full potential, carriers, advertisers and marketing companies must utilize multiple technologies and business models to bring their messages to mobile consumers. I believe that the key challenge, however, will be for all participants to view mobile as a new medium -- with new creative possibilities for rich-media target marketing.

"Mobile advertising and marketing is a risky, albeit enticing business," says principal analyst Judith Rosall. "Unlike the PC, a mobile device offers a uniquely personalized communications channel. Carriers worldwide have quite a bit of information about their end-users: name, sex, age, geographical location. And depending on the handset and plan their users have purchased, the carriers probably also know something about their economic status and credit record. But they don't like to release this information to third parties because they want to protect and control their customers."

Mobile marketing and advertising is also at varying levels of maturity, depending on the market or country, says Rosall. In Europe and Asia, mobile marketing is fairly well developed. However, early-adopting brands in the U.S. are still in the process of testing the water. They don't typically allocate a set percentage of their annual budgets to mobile.

In turn, major ad agencies are still relatively inexperienced with mobile marketing campaigns, and reluctant to utilize location-based services and technologies such as MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) and mobile search. ABI says that their slow pace in exploiting opportunities in mobile marketing and advertising, however, has opened the door for a number of specialized agencies, aggregators, and other enablers.

I agree with ABI, if you think that your traditional advertising or PR agency has already had difficulty grasping the full potential of interactive online marketing, then you can be sure that they're ill equipped to be helpful in the mobile marketspace. Moreover, even when big agencies purchase a qualified boutique agency, the staff at the parent company rarely benefit from the experience.

It's not a matter of of teaching old dogs new tricks, since many at the legacy-centered agencies are populated by young turks who were recently schooled in the practices of a bygone era. Therefore, they find it difficult -- if not impossible -- to comprehend marketing communications from the perspective of a dialogue, instead of the traditional monologue.

Meaning, investing the time and effort to view people as individuals clearly doesn't fit into the simplistic mass-market mindset that the traditionalists were taught to mimic. Like I've said before, we know from research that un-learning obsolete practices is the tough part. Learning new practices is the easy part, by comparison.

Successful free-spirited mobile marketers will have an awareness of past methodologies, but they won't be deluded by a belief that today's consumer will allow you to herd them into huge demographic pens, like timid sheep, and then let you stamp them with your branding imprints.

If your advertising or PR agency still views your customers with contempt, then ask yourself "why are you so surprised that your marketing efforts are ineffective?"

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